NEW YEAR’S EVE, somewhere in Florida. My host has finally slipped into his mushroom trip, meaning the tribal drums are being brought out. A fire the height of my hat rages in the center of the circle as we swap sacred stories inbetween shots of whiskey and bottles of beer. Calls, shouts, we make as much noise as possible to draw the spirits to us. The first hands hit the skins and I keep time with my harmonica, alternating between a climbing beat and a freight-train wail. The ball is beginning to drop but no one is watching, some strange energy pouring down from the sky and spreading its tendrils into our souls. My vision splits, prayers in an unknown tongue slip from my host’s lips, and my wife breaks into sporadic dance. 5, 4, 3, 2…
The alarm goes off on my phone. I groan, slapping the vicious machine that has torn me from what little sleep I managed to get. I am thrust back into the world of the living, the grey world of working stiffs. Still half-drunk I drag my corpse into the shower, hot steam reminding me I fell asleep with my bandanna still on.
Not hours before I had reveled in spirits both liquid and etheric with a backdrop of flames, music, and prayer; now I would spend the next eleven of them shoulder to shoulder with people who went to sleep at 8pm every night and got “toasted” off two “hard” sodas.
“Mother-of God….” I mutter.
In 15 minutes I slam coffee made the night before, a crude attempt to pacify the voice in my head demanding more sleep and more rest, a liquid riot cop beating the piss out of my circadian rhythm and forcing me to adapt to a world set by someone else’s clocks.
How had I wound up here, I wondered, how had I managed to wake up before the sun even rose over the fucking horizon to sell my labor to those that didn’t deserve it?
Why couldn’t I be like Mario, my manager, a greasy rich-man who boasted of paying nothing in taxes and blowing ten thousand dollars on a two day blackjack binge?
“The key to blackjack,” he’d often muse, “is all in the bankroll. If you lose, double down. Let’s say you lose $20, bet $40. $40? Bet $80. Keep doing that until your cards start to come up. One time I was eight grand behind at a table, won it all back and then some. You gotta have balls and bills to play blackjack, and I got both!”
With the same breath in stories like these, as he parades around the sales floor like some peacock promenanding, he’ll bemoan how much the poor abuse the system, how anybody that sells food stamps should be thrown in jail, and that the problem with this country is that people don’t want to work hard anymore.
I slink home at 5pm, collapse into bed and let my aching legs compel me to sleep. My mind fried, I’ll slip in and out of hypnogogic states, sometimes learning spells or speaking with spirits who can’t wait till my next ritual. Often I hear and see stories, epic dramas or tall tales alike, packed with hidden wisdom and lessons for the wise, characters I’ve never heard of and a few I make up teaching me things I have no way of knowing.
These dreams, smuggled and stolen from a world not so unlike our own, bring me joy and strength; carefully analyzed they often show practical occult means to fight a guerrilla war against those that live vampirically above us.
On days like this where the power of the Ruling Class is so naked, where the reality of just how much your life is owned by somebody else stinks like a dead pelican in the middle of August, these tales of rebellion and witchcraft come strongest; as my bones ache and my mind reels, sweating on thrift-store blankets in clothes that reek of grease, spirits come and offer tips to change fates and defy the odds….